As November creeps in it’s time for some winter warmers. Sure to generate some heat is It’s A Scandal! Songs For Soho Blondes. Coinciding with the new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Stephen Ward and the West End premiere of new play Keeler, both of which are based on the Profumo Affair, It’s A Scandal! recreates the heady world of Soho clubland, which was the milieu for many of the characters caught up in that story which went very public in 1963. Two of the 25 featured tracks are specifically Profumo-related: at the time of the scandal, independent record label Ember released the opportune satirical single “Christine”, credited to Miss X (actually Joyce Blair with producer John Barry), and the same label also released an EP of songs by Mandy Rice-Davies, an associate of Christine Keeler caught up in the unfolding story. The majority of tracks featured on It’s A Scandal! date from the late fifties/early sixties and are by female singers tackling often risqué material, including “Sex” by Shirley Bassey, “Roller Coaster Blues” by Diana Dors and “Be Not ‘Notty’” by Elke Sommer. Most of this material is hard to find on CD and it will be of considerable appeal to aficionados of burlesque repertoire. With cool jazz vocals, laidback piano and leering brass, this is strip club music, from the camp to the carnivorous! Sleeve notes come courtesy of Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne, who incidentally has just published a terrific book entitled Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story Of Modern Pop.
If that hasn’t warmed you sufficiently, then how about the second instalment of The Forgotten 45s? The first rounded up 25 tracks apiece from the years 1957, 1958 and 1959, all judged by compiler Austin Powell to be contenders for the British Top 30, but in the eventuality failed to chart. Naturally, this has proved to be irresistible to those record collectors who have already scooped up the British Hit Parade series, and they will now welcome Austin’s return with another 3CD set The Forgotten 45s 1960-1962. “The tracklisting is spot-on,” enthused Vintage Rock about the 1957-1959 set, and HiFi World deemed it “fascinating stuff”. Well, both sets are now available, so judge for yourself.
Our third November release is also a sequel and continues Stuart Colman’s fascinating Road To Rock & Roll series, which highlights the wealth of trailblazing American recordings that surfaced in the UK ahead of the rock & roll explosion? The 2CD Road To Rock & Roll Vol. 2: Dangerous Liaisons takes the story up to 1953-1954, and has bagged the lead review slot in Now Dig This. According to their reviewer, Stuart’s compilation “serves to remind us that the road to rock n roll was well and truly open to traffic during 1953. The compilation closes with a trio of under-reissued gems that may well still be as obscure today as they were when first released here in 1954. A fascinating collection that’ll have you scratching your head in disbelief one moment, then itching to cut a rug the next.” Hot stuff indeed. And watch out for the third and final instalment No Stopping Us Now in February.